It is symptomatic of the way governance is conducted in Uttar Pradesh under chief minister Yogi Adityanath, a hardcore politician who doubles as the head of a mutt or religious seat, that when 10 poor people of the Gond tribe, including a teenager and three women, were shot dead in a land dispute in cold blood earlier this week by influential people of the Ghorawal area in Sonbhadra district, not far from Varanasi, the CM saw no reason to visit the place to console the victims’ families or take stock of the situation.
All that he saw fit to do was to penalise some minor officials. But he went into propaganda overdrive when Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi arrived in Mirzapur, near Sonbhadra, determined to visit the families of the deceased. Her way was barred. She was arrested and pushed into a state guesthouse in Chunar overnight. Section 144 was imposed in the area to prevent her passage. The CM did not bother with the dead, he prevented another politician from expressing her sympathy with their kith and kin and, he held forth at a press conference on the ills of the Congress.
As far as can be ascertained, no impartial high-level inquiry was instituted in the wake of the crime although, according to victim statements in the media, an army of nearly a hundred persons apparently descended with firearms on the scene of the massacre.
In the Yogi raj it is the weaker sections of the society who have been bereft of governmental protection in a range of crimes in which communal gangs or particular caste groups have typically been perpetrators. Members of the Muslim community have been frequent targets, using the slogan of love jihad, cow slaughter, and the like. There have been atrocities against the dalit community. And this time round it is the tribal community.
It is common to hear that law and order has suffered grievously in the current dispensation. Not long ago, a police inspector doing his duty impartially was shot dead by members of a fanatical Hindu organisation who had stormed the police station. Before he became CM, Adityanath was himself listed in a range of cases of crime of a communal nature over a period of time — a “history-sheeter”, in short. His first act on assuming office was to get his name erased from these on the dubious plea that his booking in each case was “politically motivated”, a plea which does not have many takers.
At the time of the terrible Muzaffarnagar communal killings of late 2013, Adityanath was not CM. But his government has ensured that the accused in 40 of the 41 cases have gone scot-free as witnesses, which included policemen, have turned hostile, and court proceedings have been conducted in the most perfunctory manner, as media investigations have shown. Perhaps it is time the ruling BJP changed the CM....